April 2, 2014
Three members of the Air Force women's gymnastics team will travel to Minneapolis, Minn., on Saturday, April 5, for the NCAA Regional Championships. Senior Linnaea Hance, classmate Katie Hawthorne and sophomore Shannen Kelly will represent the Falcons at the regional meet, which is slated to begin at 6 p.m. (CT) inside the Sports Pavilion on the Minnesota campus.
The Minneapolis Regional will feature teams from No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 11 Illinois, No. 14 Minnesota, No. 19 California, No. 26 Southern Utah and No. 31 San Jose State, as well as individual gymnasts from Air Force, Iowa and Wisconsin-Whitewater. General admission tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for youth, students and seniors. Live results, as well as a video feed, will be available at gophersports.com.
Linnaea Hance will represent the Academy in the all-around competition for the third straight year, while Katie Hawthorne and Shannen Kelly will serve as the individual event specialists on the uneven bars and balance beam, respectively. In addition, Jessica Wallander (vault), Alexandra Stych (uneven bars) and Sarah Neumann (balance beam) were named regional alternates.
HOW THIS WORKS
The top two teams and top two all-around competitors not on an advancing team from each of the six regional sites (Athens, Ga., Baton Rouge, La., Fayetteville, Ark., Minneapolis, Minn., Seattle, Wash., and University Park, Pa.) will receive an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships, while will be held in Birmingham, Ala., on April 18-20. In addition, the event winners from each regional site (who are not a part of a qualifying team or one of the two all-around qualifiers) will also advance to the national championship meet.
LAST YEAR AT THE REGIONAL MEET
Jessica Wallander posted the best individual event finish of the four Falcons that competed at the 2013 regional meet, as she tied for 13th on the vault with a score of 9.825. Jen Larsen, Katie Hawthorne and Linnaea Hance finished 14th, 15th and 16th, respectively, in the all-around at the Columbus Regional.
DAY NAMED CONFERENCE'S COACH OF THE YEAR
For the third time in five years, Doug Day was named the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation's coach of the year. The Falcons coach, who also earned the honor in 2010 and 2011, helped the Falcons improved their season score in every regular-season meet (11 straight competitions). Under his guidance, Air Force accounted for its highest total in the last decade (195.300) and the 15th-best score in conference history.
TRIO EARNS ALL-CONFERENCE HONORS
Based on their regular-season Regional Qualifying Scores, Linnaea Hance, Jessica Wallander and Katie Hawthorne combined for six all-MPSF honors. Hance earned all-league status on the uneven bars (9.825), balance beam (9.825) and all-around (38.790), while Wallander claimed all-conference honors on the vault (9.785) and floor exercise (9.770), and Hawthorne picked up all-MPSF distinction on the floor exercise (9.765).
FALCONS FINISH FIFTH AT MPSF CHAMPIONSHIPS
Backed by a runner-up finish on the uneven bars from Katie Hawthorne, Air Force finished fifth at the MPSF Championships on March 22. Hawthorne, who scored a 9.800 to tie for second on that event, was one of three Falcons to finish within the top 10, as Linnaea Hance tied for seventh on the uneven bars and tied with Jessica Wallander for eighth on the vault. As a team, the Falcons scored a 193.650 to finish fifth in the six-team conference championship meet.
WHAT'S AHEAD FOR THE FALCONS
Air Force wraps up team competition next weekend, as it travels to Providence, R.I., for the USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championships on April 11-13.